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Q&A: London cycle hire scheme

London's first self-service cycle hire scheme, offering users access to bikes 24-hours-a-day without the need for booking has begun.
Here is a short guide to how the scheme works.

Q: When does the scheme start?

A: London's cycle hire scheme began operating at 0600 BST on 30 July.

Q: Who can use it?

A: The scheme is open to anyone aged 18 or over. For the first four weeks only registered members can use the bikes. Once signed up as a member users are sent a fob through the post which is used to release a bike from a docking station.
From the beginning of September the bikes will be available for use on a pay-as-you-cycle basis. The system will allow you to pay online, by phone or at a docking station (using a credit or debit card), after which you will be given a keycode which will unlock the bikes.

Q: Where can I pick up a bike?

A: By the end of the summer 6,000 bikes will be available at 400 docking stations throughout central London. A map showing the docking stations is available online and in a leaflet from Transport for London. If the bike rack is empty an interactive map on the terminal will direct you to the nearest available bike.
There are also a number of mobile phone applications and widgets showing locations of docking stations and other related information.

Q: How do I return the bike?

A: You can return a bike to any of the docking stations. If there are no free spaces, an interactive map on the terminal will direct you to the nearest docking station with an available space. You will be given an extra 15 minutes if you need to cycle to another rack.

Q: How much does it cost?

A: The cycle hire scheme is most cost-effective for short journeys. Users have to pay an access fee to use the scheme, except members who pay a £45 annual fee, plus a usage charge - and the first 30 minutes is free.

Q: What happens if there is a problem with the bike?

A: If the bike has a puncture or is in need of maintenance take it to the nearest docking station and press the fault report button. The bike will be locked so no-one can use it until it is repaired.

Q: What happens if the bike is stolen or damaged?

A: If the bike is wilfully damaged or stolen while in your possession you will be charged £300.
media captionHow does the London cycle-hire scheme work?

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